Rules for Readers
Before a club is formed, it's important to make sure that everyone is on the same page as far as expectations are concerned and that there's no miscommunication between members. Be inquisitive! Ask potential members why they want to join and what they intend to gain from the experience. Ask whether or not they can commit to regularly scheduled meetings, and collect thoughts about how often the club should meet. This will also help determine a reasonable reading pace for the group once the club is established.
Once you've accepted all your members, schedule a time for everyone to meet and discuss titles for the first book selection. Make sure everyone knows when and where the first meeting will take place, and suggest they bring one or two titles to nominate to the group. At the meeting, hold an open and honest discussion regarding a general list of club rules. Does the group only want books to be chosen if they're available in paperback, and should rare books be included? Depending on how strict or laid back you want your club to be, you might talk about an attendance policy, how future members should be added and even whether or not a genre of books should be excluded. (Cat-centric mystery novels, we're looking at you!) Setting up a list of rules that are agreed upon by the entire club will ensure that there are no misconceptions and that you'll all be reading works that you will (or at least have the potential to) enjoy.
After the rules are in place, it's time to choose the club's first title. Encourage members to discuss possible books for nomination, and once a list is formed, decide a fair way for a work to be chosen. Some groups prefer to pull a slip of paper out of a hat at random, whereas others take a public or silent vote. Perhaps the fairest way to choose a title is to refer to a schedule of predetermined dates, like birthdays. By taking turns in order and giving members a schedule, everyone will have plenty of time to research books and make a choice. This can also prevent a specific genre from being chosen too many times in a row. To rotate between fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, classics or contemporary pieces, members can assign each person with a genre to keep book selections diverse and interesting.